2024 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles: Zayne Parekh

Saginaw Spirit defenseman Zayne Parekh taking part in an away game this season.
Natalie Shaver / OHL Images Natalie Shaver / OHL Images

The Scouting Report:

Zayne Parekh is a right-hand shot offensive defenseman who has spent the past 2 years with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. Parekh is truly one of the most exciting prospects in this year’s draft class and has a game that translates well to the NHL level. Parekh led the Spirit in scoring with 33 goals and 63 assists for 96 points in 66 games. He was also named the CHL defenseman of the year, as well as capturing a Memorial Cup for the first time in Saginaw’s franchise history. He comes in at 6’0″ and 181 lbs.

Parekh makes a very noticeable impact in each game he plays in, and is simply a fun player to watch. During the CHL Top Prospects game, I felt he was one of the most impressive players on the ice. Lethal from everywhere in the offensive zone, and armed with elite skating ability Parekh produces offensively at a staggering rate and has been among the top 10 in draft rankings for the majority of the season, for very good reason.

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Draft Projections

Ranked #7 by Inside The Rink
Ranked #5 by Elite Prospects
Ranked #9 by TSN/Bob McKenzie
Ranked #5 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Ranked #9 by Sportsnet/Bukala
Ranked #8 by Draft Prospects Hockey
Ranked #8 by DobberProspects

Conrad Jack of Inside The Rink has Zayne Parekh projected at 7th overall.

Diving Deeper

Parekh possesses an impressive skillset that has NHL Scouts very excited, let’s take a closer look at the attributes that make up this electrifying defenseman’s game.

Puck Handling Ability

Parekh is a puck-moving defenseman, through and through. He constantly has possession and displays very nifty hands in tight spaces, both in transition and in the offensive zone. He is a natural playmaker and excels at breaking the puck out of his end with speed and precision. There are countless examples this season of Parekh appearing to have the puck on a string, his skill and precision are truly elite.

Parekh is also fantastic on the first pass and can thread the needle with short passes with relative ease.

“Zayne Parekh is one of the better puck-moving defensemen in the 2024 NHL Draft class. He loves to take advantage of tight passing lanes when on the rush and pressure intensifies. Parekh will complete outlet and stretch passes underneath the stick of the attacker with ease. When off puck but his team has possession of the puck, Parekh loves to jump into the rush and provide his teammates with a passing option up ice.”

Josh Tessler, SMAHT Recruiting

Skating

While not necessarily the fastest skater in his draft class, Parekh is an unbelievably smooth and efficient skater. He appears to move effortlessly and can weave through forecheckers on the breakout. He has a great first stride and carries the puck out of his zone very effectively. He also can walk the line in the offensive zone to put himself in especially dangerous areas, this is most apparent from his success quarter-backing one of the top power plays in the OHL this season. Parekh is also remarkably deceptive and comfortable with the puck on his stick, as seen in the highlight below.

“His offensive game is so advanced as he’s always got a plan when the puck is on his stick. Parekh is the king of deception and misdirection as he will line up his eyesight and hips in one direction getting opponents to chase in that direction before flipping his hips fluidly and cutting up or cutting back against the grain unevaded to the net.”

Jordan Harris, Dobber Prospects

Areas for Improvement

While Parekh’s defensive abilities have shown significant improvement since his OHL rookie season, they remain an area that needs improvement. He is incredibly offensive-minded and this sometimes puts him out of position defensively. Scouts have also found him to lack urgency in the defensive end at times and plays what many would consider a ‘loose’ defensive game.

Aside from his defensive play, Parekh could benefit greatly from adding size and strength off the ice which could help his game translate better to the demands of the NHL. However, with the right development, I believe that Parekh could move into a top-four role with relative ease.

On-Ice Abilities

Other than the attributes mentioned above, Parekh possesses a bunch of other very impressive attributes that I wanted to touch on. The first is the creativity and offensive IQ that Parekh displays is otherworldly. He sees the ice at a level above his peers and is never out of ideas on how to generate offense. He also has a lethal shot that he isn’t afraid to use that is lethal from all areas. With an accurate wrist shot off the rush and a heavy slapshot from the point, Parekh’s offensive toolkit is deep.

Prospect Potential

Parekh is one of my favorite prospects in the upcoming draft, and I feel he has some of the biggest potential upside for his class. His ceiling is an elite top-pairing offensive defenseman who can quarterback a power play and put up staggering offensive numbers. I see a lot of comparisons to Erik Karlsson in Parekh’s game and I think he has an amazing career ahead of him.

Best Potential Fit

Columbus (4th Overall) – Columbus selecting a defenseman makes perfect sense, however, in this draft, there are several elite-level defensive prospects in the top ten. At the same time, I could see Columbus taking Parekh at 4th if they like his game enough. Parekh would be a great addition to Columbus’ blue line.

Utah (6th Overall) – Utah doesn’t have anyone in their system who has the potential to be a number-one defenseman, so I think that Parekh would be a fantastic choice for them based on their needs. Additionally, Parekh may be the best player available at the time pending no one in the top five goes off the board.

Ottawa (7th Overall) – I really like the narrative that Ottawa selects Parekh at 7th, it has been well documented that Jacob Chychrun is looking to leave the Sens, and Parekh could fill that hole very well. It’s also poetic to hear the Erik Karlsson comparisons, it feels like fate.

San Jose (14th Overall) – Although I don’t think there is any way that Parekh will be available at 14, I think that San Jose would be a fantastic fit. They have a lot of forward talent in their pipeline but could use an elite defensive talent to round out their future.

Final Thoughts

Historically, defensemen who post staggering offensive numbers in the CHL have gone on to excel at the NHL level, and I think that Parekh will be no different. Regardless of where he ends up, the team that calls Zayne Parekh to the stage is getting a phenomenal talent, with offensive ability that we haven’t seen in a defenseman since Cale Makar. The sky is the limit for Parekh.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Ryan Scott

Maritimer, lifelong hockey fan and Prospect Writer.

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